Schulte House: the 1st Wabash Ave mansion

Charles Schulte was a partner in the Schulte & Reitman sawmill on Ohio St.  Its success made Schulte, who was a native of Prussia, a rich man.  He built his large residence in 1878 in the Italianate style along Wabash Ave between Indiana and Illinois St.  It boasted a fancy veranda, ornamental window heads, and a three-story tower and juxtaposed with the modest working-class homes nearby.

1880 Schulte
The new Schulte residence from the Evansville 1880 Map

Schulte was instrumental in establishing St Boniface parish, along with several other prominent West Siders.  It also interesting to note his partner, Henry Reitman, built his large home just across the street. Many may recall this house just off the Lloyd Expressway that was razed just a few years ago.

c1889
The mansion as it looked around 1889, before the wrap around porch.

Mr. Schulte passed away around the turn of the century and his wife around 1910, so the house became available.  The West Side merchant, William Scherffius, who ran his department store nearby on Franklin St purchased the house.  Immediately he set to remodeling the mansion including the addition of a massive front porch.  At 1400 sq ft, it was the largest in the city.  It was decorated in stone and wrapped most of the house.

new porch 1400 sq ft
Article about new porch encompassing 1,400 sq ft – Evansville Courier 9/22/1912
Wabash Ave, 110 N (1920 Nov)a
Talk about curb appeal.  The updated Scherffius house c1915

Scherffius too passed away sometime around the late 1920s.  The house was purported to be the home of the National Youth Administration, but found its new calling when the Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) purchased the home in 1942. The clubs growth facilitated an addition which was built in 1950 just left/south of the old house, which is still in use today. The organization grew to become the largest chapter of in the United States.

1961
1961 aerial of the club.  The West Branch Library is in the lower right and Reitman’s home (Schulte’s old partner) is in the upper left close to the Expressway

By the mid 1960s the house was deemed “too costly to repair” as plans were made to replace the magnificent home with a simple one-story structure. The old home was torn down in 1966, and the new building was completed later that year adjoining the 1950s addition.

new sketch mar 1966
Sketch of new VFW building March 1966.  The round top part (left) was the 1950 addition.

One final look then & now

doomed
Doomed.  Article about the Schulte/Scherffius home being sentenced
VFW Present day
VFW Present day similar to view above.  The 1950s addition is in the background left